Alimony vs. Property Settlement

Divorcing spouses must clearly distinguish between payments that are part of a property settlement and those that are alimony. A distinction between the two is critical if for no other reason than tax consequences. Alimony payments are different from property distributions, which are generally without tax consequences to either spouse. Failure to properly label alimony can result in drastic tax consequences to the payor.

While the terms and conditions of a property division are negotiated first and set in stone, alimony is often modifiable, and based on changing circumstances, such as changes in employment or retirement. Payments of property division are unaffected by remarriage, whereas alimony often terminates if the recipient makes another trip to the altar. A former wife cohabiting with a new love may drive her former husband to distraction, particularly when he is paying her alimony, but payments in support of a property settlement are a distribution of what they had when they were husband and wife. Alimony continues only during the lives of the spouses; property settlements are inheritable and can be enforced by the decedent's estate.



Suggested Reading
The Spousal Support Handbook The Spousal Support Handbook
Spousal support is one of many issues that is often difficult for spouses to agree upon. Before negotiating and even signing an agreement regarding spousal support it is very important that you understand your rights and the repercussions of any actions taken.

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ALIMONY BLUES – Courts are most likely to award permanent alimony in the case of a middle-aged stay-at-home mother who faces a heroically difficult climb to reenter a job market indifferent to her stale job skills. Even though lifetime alimony is raw material for standup comedians in nightclubs, the career homemaker very often needs this protection.
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